On Monday Night Football (the second one, not the first one), Todd Gurley finally broke out for fantasy owners (kind of). By “broke out,” I mean that he found the end zone not once, but twice — despite averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. That’s as hot as a lukewarm cup of coffee — as sexy as assless chaps with patches sewn in. It was the kind of performance that you had to be pleased with if you had him in your lineup, but at the same time, you were probably also clapping slowly while shooting those around you sneaky glares out the corner of your eyes to see if they were equally excited. On the plus side, Gurley out-touched Brian Hill 17-to-six, one week after Hill appeared to be the much more explosive back even as Gurley rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown. On the down side, Gurley caught just one pass for the second consecutive week (Ito Smith and Hill combined for five grabs), bringing his season total to a measly four receptions. Gurley clearly isn’t the back he once was, however, he did show some elusiveness inside the green zone on his first rushing touchdown, even shaking a second would-be tackler for the score. This is the point we’re at with running backs in 2020, as both Austin Ekeler and Nick Chubb went down in Week 4 with significant injuries. I am actually, tentatively, kind-of excited about Gurley. This is not good.
On the opposing sideline, Aaron Jones enjoyed yet another strong week, rushing 15 times for 71 yards (4.7 YPC) and hauling in five passes for 40 yards and a touchdown. The Packers look like the cream of the crop in the NFC (right alongside Seattle), as the Super Bowl could (I said could) potentially pit two State Farm figureheads against one another in Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. Can you imagine the marketing potential for State Farm!? Let’s all buy stock now! *does quick Google search* It’s already up 4.2% since Sept. 23 — people must really be catching on. Unfortunately, my popularity stock over on Reddit — and in life — is doing the exact opposite. My parents visited last week, and somehow, my father locked himself in the stairwell three different times. Again, this is 2020. This is real. And this is not good.
Before I lose everyone’s attention, let’s get into the Week 5 rest of season top 60 running back rankings. But first — a quick trip around the league.
Alvin Kamara – 19 carries, 83 yards, one rushing TD; three receptions, 36 yards receiving. Kamara kept things rolling on the road against Detroit, after I elevated him to RB1 last week in the ROS rankings. Was it a coincidence Fantasy Pros elevated Kamara to RB1 for ROS one week after I did? Yes, a coincidence — although I like to convince myself otherwise. Again, you can make a case for Elliott as ROS RB1, and the same goes for Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook and Aaron Jones as well. But Kamara is averaging 20 touches, 7.5 catches and 28.2 half-PPR points per game — the latter of which is more than three PPG more than the next best player. Dave Seville knows Alvin is the money maker — and you’d be wise to apply the same thinking to fantasy football. There’s no one I’d rather have as my RB1 moving forward. Those who came away with Kamara and Jones as their RB1 and RB2 in draft season struck gold.
Dalvin Cook – 27 carries, 130 yards, two rushing TDs; two receptions, 16 yards. Cook has now touched the ball 82 times through four weeks and has been given 22 or more carries while rushing for 130+ yards two consecutive weeks. Seeing as Cook’s ROS schedule ranks among the top quarter of the league in terms of ease for running backs, he’s up to No. 3 this week. It’s scary to think just how bad Kirk Cousins might be capable of being without the threat of Cook on the ground in the Minnesota Vikings offense.
Derrick Henry – Experienced a Week 4 bye as the Titans-Steelers game was moved to Week 7. Rumor has it he quarantined in Mike Vrabel’s living room in a mophie suit. Full transparency: Originally, I actually moved Henry down to No. 5 before realizing what this actually meant for Henry’s ROS value. While all other fantasy running backs have 11 games remaining through Week 16, Henry has 12. For those of you finance majors, that’s $1.09 on the dollar from here on out. Henry is up to RB2 overall as a result of his surplus games remaining.
Jonathan Taylor – 17 carries, 68 yards; one reception, 11 yards. Meanwhile, Nyheim Hines saw 12 touches including nine carries and Jordan Wilkins received 10 touches including nine carries. Excuse me, what? Taylor was only given a 45% share of the touches in Week 4, something none of us saw coming. It could be because the Colts led for much of this game and didn’t give up a touchdown until 1:35 remaining in the fourth quarter. It could also be because Frank Reich doesn’t trust Taylor in the passing game and wants to better disguise the Colts’ play calls, opting to use Hines and Wilkins for a higher percentage of snaps as a result. Either way, Week 4 didn’t boost Taylor’s stock. If anything, the argument is whether he should be downgraded or held neutral. I’ve opted to stay relatively neutral, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to be frantically monitoring his share of the touches in Week 5.
Austin Ekeler – Left Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay after hyperextending his knee in the first quarter, totaling just 12 yards on two carries and catching one pass for two yards prior to his exit. Ekeler is expected to miss four-to-six weeks with a hamstring injury. Even if Ekeler only misses four weeks, there isn’t room for him to finish as an RB1 for the rest of the season, as he currently sits at RB13. It’s also possible Ekeler misses the maximum six weeks on this timetable, as the Chargers play the Raiders in Week 9 before a Week 10 bye — so they could opt to have him return in Week 11 at Denver with some extra rest. If that happens, Ekeler would only play in six more games this season and if he replicates his average production (17.6 FPPG) through Week 3 in 2020 from there on out, he projects to score 103.8 fantasy points over the final 12 weeks of the season. That translates to 8.65 FPPG for ROS, which comps closely to Latavius Murray in 2019 (8.8 FPPG). Would still love to start him in half-PPR and PPR as an RB1 when he’s active, but he’s been downgraded significantly as a result of the Week 4 injury and is now outside of RB2 range as a simple product of math. I’ve also been downgraded, but because I’m getting older, uglier and increasingly less funny as each new day of quarantine passes.
Joshua Kelley – Nine carries, seven yards; three receptions, 26 yards. Kelly saw the bulk of the work after Ekeler left with injury, but did little to separate himself as the potential lead back with Ekeler out. Not only did he average fewer than one yard per attempt, but he also lost a crucial fumble inside 1:00 late in the second quarter. Meanwhile, Justin Jackson rushed six times for nine yards with another 12 yards in the air on two grabs, as the Buccaneers held the Chargers running attack on lock all Sunday long. Kelley is still the back I want to own in this backfield with Ekeler out, but Kelley’s struggles and subsequent fumble have him pinned as nothing more than a low-end RB2 for Week 5. If I have the option, I’d prefer to sit on Kelley in Week 5 and gain some additional insight on his Ekeler-less workload before starting him with confidence. Then again, I haven’t had much confidence since the third grade.
Kenyan Drake – 13 carries, 35 yards; 0 receptions. *withdraws from keyboard, purses lips, puffs up cheeks and stares off at the wall* I haven’t felt this betrayed by a prospective love interest since Trevor Bauer blocked me on Twitter this past July. Kenyan, I’m done with you. If you’re contending for a championship, it might be time to pair Drake with a startable bench asset for an RB upgrade. If you can even pull that off at this point. He’s a mid-tier RB2 at best until he finally shows us he’s a legitimate weapon for Kyler Murray in the Cardinals offense. For the time being, Drake — I’ll laugh now and cry later. Or maybe I’ll cry now and later.
Nick Chubb – Six carries, 43 yards; 0 catches. Chubb touched the ball just six times before leaving Sunday’s game against Dallas with a hamstring injury. He’ll miss at least six weeks, which is half of the remainder of the fantasy football season for those who play in 16 week formats (at best). It sounds like it could be even worse, as the Browns were quick to place Chubb on IR and plan to play it cautious with him moving forward — some are even speculating he could be out the rest of the year. Not saying that will happen, but the risk is there. With Chubb out for most of the game, Kareem Hunt saw 11 carries while D’Ernest Johnson (who!?) rushed the ball 13 times, the latter out-gaining Hunt 95-to-71. Both backs were efficient, as even Hunt averaged 6.5 yards per attempt. Hunt clearly gets a weekly boost if Chubb has to miss additional time, but not to the same extent as one would have thought in the preseason under a Chubb injury scenario. Johnson should eat into some of Hunt’s carries while Chubb is on the shelf, although I would be comfortable starting Hunt as an RB1/top-tier RB2 while staying away from Johnson aside from a deep bench stash. It’s always a tumultuous process when your Chubb gets hurt. I guess you could say that d’importance of being Ernest is to pay closer attention to your Johnson.
Joe Mixon – 25 carries, 151 yards, two rushing TDs; six receptions, 30 yards, one receiving TD. He lives!!! Joe decided to Mixon it up this week by actually producing not only as a Week 4 RB2, but as RB1 overall. Mixon erupted for 39.1 half-PPR points as he found pay dirt three times on 31 touches against Jacksonville, causing him to jump up all the way to RB8 after averaging just 7.9 FPPG (Rank: 39th) through the first three weeks of the season. Mixon has now hauled in 12 receptions over the past three games and is finally beginning to show some of that RB1 upside that prompted certain fantasy managers to use a first round pick on him this past draft season. However, Mixon draws Indianapolis, Baltimore and Cleveland the next three weeks — all of which rank among the top-seven rushing defenses in the NFL while allowing fewer than 100 rushing yards per game through the first four weeks. Mixon is trending up — but will likely continue to be a volatile asset given that the Bengals offense is still a work-in-progress. If you can sell high on him, I would highly recommend doing so.
Chris Carson – 16 attempts, 80 yards, two rushing TDs; three catches, 20 yards. I submit my ROS running back rankings late on Monday nights following the conclusion of Monday Night Football, which led me to downgrade Carson from RB13 to RB17 last week as a result of his Week 3 knee sprain. After a strong week of practice, Carson actually suited up in Week 4 against the Dolphins. Would I have known Carson wouldn’t miss a game, he would have been ranked higher last week, and with injuries to several other running backs this season (Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, Nick Chubb) — he’s now positioned as a ROS RB1 for half-PPR formats. Call me crazy! Through the first quarter of the NFL season, Carson has performed as RB5 overall with 18.1 FPPG. He’s received 14+ carries three straight weeks and has caught a minimum of three passes in every game this season. Although his boom potential will be touchdown-dependent as Russell Wilson continues to cook, if you drafted him near his ADP of RB16, you’re positioned to compete for a league championship. Unless you royally forked up elsewhere.
James Robinson – 17 carries, 75 yards; four receptions, 32 yards. Positioned as RB6 with 17.4 FPPG through Week 4, Robinson continues to exceed expectations every week. He’s a rock-solid RB2 for ROS that pairs well with an elite B1 like Kamara, Elliott, Henry, Cook or Jones for those in hot pursuit of a 2020 fantasy title. In other (lack of) news, Ryquell Armstead remains M.I.A. on the COVID-19/reserve list while J-Rob gets fly like paper and high like planes.
Raheem Mostert – Inactive for the second consecutive week with a sprained MCL injury. Head coach Mike Shannahan said Monday that Mostert is likely to play in Week 6 against the Rams, although a Week 5 return against the Dolphins is also possible. If Mostert is back on the field this week, he’s a top 20 RB for the remainder of the 2020 season.
Devin Singletary – 18 attempts, 55 yards, rushing TD; five receptions, 21 yards. Has Singletary done enough to claim a feature back role in Buffalo with Zack Moss out? We won’t know for sure until Moss suits up again, but there were two important takeaways from Singletary’s Week 4 performance. For one, he was handed a goal-line carry and punched it in for a touchdown. Second, he followed his four-catch, 50-yard Week 3 receiving performance with a five-catch showing in Week 4. While it’s hard to employ him as an RB2 alongside a healthy Moss until we see what the workload split looks like, Singletary is trending upward.
Le’Veon Bell – Eligible to be activated off IR this week and told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler he hopes to play in Week 5. I don’t love Bell and the Jets offense is, well, utterly and helplessly Jets-like, as the O-line has made Frank Gore look like he’s on the wrong side of 35. *stranger nearby leans over, cups hand to ear and whispers* “He’s 37.” Hey now lady, six feet please! Even with the struggles this Jets offense has experienced, the vast injuries to the running back position have created a shortage of legitimate RB2 options in fantasy. From my vantage point, Bell is deserving of low-end RB2 status as RB23 overall for ROS — but don’t insert him into lineups quite yet unless you have to.
Ronald Jones – 20 carries, 111 yards; six catches, 17 yards. Jones saw a lot of action in Week 4 with Leonard Fournette out, as he received 26 touches and was targeted nine times in the passing game. Unfortunately, he dropped three passes and it’s impossible predict what the share of touches will look like between the two once Fournette returns. With the Buccaneers facing a short week thanks to a Thursday night tilt with Chicago, Jones could see a heavy workload yet again if Fournette is unable to go. According to head coach Bruce Arians, there’s a “shot” Fournette suits up. There’s also a “shot” I’ll wake up tomorrow wearing golden underwear. If only.
Damien Harris – 17 carries, 100 yards. In his first game off the IR, Harris led the Patriots backfield with 17 carries and averaged 5.9 yards per attempt. He didn’t contribute anything to the passing game, but with Michel out at least three weeks, Harris should continue to see double-digit carries each week. If he’s getting 17 carries in a game against the Chiefs in which New England trailed from start-to-finish, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which he isn’t getting a similar workload. After beginning the season inside the top 60, Harris is back in and making good on his prior sleeper status from draft season. Due to James White’s presence in the passing game, Harris doesn’t have a tremendous ceiling and it’s tough to envision RB2-type production, but he’s worthy of a waiver wire add.
Cam Akers – Missed a second consecutive game with a rib injury. However, head coach Sean McVay expects Akers to return in Week 5 in Washington. This only creates further confusion in the Rams backfield, pouring salt on the wound for Darrell Henderson owners. Henderson already underwhelmed in Week 4 as Malcolm Brown out-touched him 15-to-nine. If you’re desperate, I suppose Henderson remains under Flex consideration in Week 5, but that’s about it. At this point, Akers excites me more than Henderson or Brown simply due to his higher degree of upside.
Mike Davis – 16 carries, 84 yards, one rushing TD; five receptions, 27 yards. Davis has been tremendous the past two weeks as the Panthers’ starting running back, averaging 101 multi-purpose yards with a touchdown in each contest. However, it appears as though McCaffrey could be back as early as Week 6 against the Bears, or perhaps Week 7 versus the Saints at the latest. While this makes Davis an excellent RB2 option in Week 5 against Atlanta, it significantly caps his ROS value. It doesn’t appear as Davis’ league-winning scenario is going to play out, as a McCaffrey return is all but imminent. If you can somehow trade him, trade him — otherwise exploit the sexy Week 5 match-up.
Note: Rankings are constructed for half-PPR fantasy scoring. Rest-of-season strength of schedule was considered in these rankings using Fantasy Pros’ Easiest Remaining Schedule feature.
That’s all for this week. I started these rankings searching for my lost father in the apartment building lobby and finished them on the couch in my underpants gazing aimlessly into Aaron Rodgers’ eyes. Until next time, I’m happy to take this conversation into the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.